January 6, 2015

On Body Image


 (me.  day old hair in sore need of a trim and color. chipped nail polish. weird and all)

This morning I came across this article ironically the day after a candid converstation about body image with my mother.  The article reports about an online photo project created by a photographer from Lithuania named Neringa Rekasiute.  It's purpose is to empower women to put aside society's view of beauty (which is just as bad in Lithuania as it is here) and embrace what it truly means to be beautiful. 

The conversation I had with my mom revolved mainly on the scars that are left behind on women's bodies when we undergo a big change.  Whether it be extreme weight loss, having children, injuries you've overcome, etc our bodies change.  They grow, they shrink, they are left with marks and scars that remind us of our victories and failures. 

In my case, I have lived my entire life as an overweight child/teen/young adult.  I'm finally entering into a period of my life where I will no longer be overweight.  I am strong.  I am built with muscles.  And, I'm scarred. 

As many are aware, when a person (women especially) undergo a dramatic weightloss, they are left with stretch marks, scars, and skin.  Though the muscles underneath are stronger than they've ever been, the outward appearance is shadowed by the reminders of what was.  When a woman has a baby, she is filled with joy over the new life her body helped to create, but then her body is left with extra weight, stretch marks, and ravaged abdominal muscles.  These things can have a huge effect on our self esteem and self worth. 

But news flash: beauty is so much more than the the appearance of our skin, muscles, and scars.

These scars that we're left with should be seen as badges of honor.  The stretch marks left after pregnancy are tiger stripes earned by doing one of the hardest things our God-given bodies were created to do.  The loose skin left after extreme weightloss is a trophy reminding ourselves of what we accomplished ON OUR OWN!  Though they may not be attractive by society's standards, they truly can be something we can be proud of. 

I am an advocate of body acceptance.  I am an advocate for self love, recovery, and wellness.  I thought I'd take this moment however to mention that I'm not an advocate for promotion of unhealthy plus size images of men and women.  Yes, I believe you MUST love yourself no matter your size and shape.  But you also MUST take care of yourself.  If someone is a size 18, 20, 22 and can come back from the doctor with a clean bill of health, great!  But the honestly, that is rare.  (and I only speak from experience).  There are countless celebrities, writers, bloggers, etc out there that promote being extremely plus size, fat and happy, big and beautiful, whatever.  And that's great to promote self-acceptance.  But, it's NOT great to promote unhealthy living, eating garbage frankenfoods, lethargy, and not giving a flying fart about your health. 

With that.  Accept yourself.  Love yourself.  Love yourself enough to take care of your body.  Appreciate it for all that it does for you by respecting it with the things you put into it and the things you do with it.  Love the badges of honor you've earned.

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